Disentangling and quantifying the relative cognitive impact of concurrent mixed neurodegenerative pathologies

Carolina Maldonado-Díaz, Satomi Hiya, Raquel T. Yokoda, Kurt Farrell, Gabriel A. Marx, Justin Kauffman, Elena V. Daoud, Mitzi M. Gonzales, Alicia S. Parker, Leyla Canbeldek, Lakshmi Shree Kulumani Mahadevan, John F. Crary, Charles L. White, Jamie M. Walker, Timothy E. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer disease neuropathologic change (ADNC), Lewy body disease (LBD), limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy neuropathologic change (LATE-NC), and cerebrovascular disease (CVD) frequently coexist, but little is known about the exact contribution of each pathology to cognitive decline and dementia in subjects with mixed pathologies. We explored the relative cognitive impact of concurrent common and rare neurodegenerative pathologies employing multivariate logistic regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, and level of education. We analyzed a cohort of 6,262 subjects from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center database, ranging from 0 to 6 comorbid neuropathologic findings per individual, where 95.7% of individuals had at least 1 neurodegenerative finding at autopsy and 75.5% had at least 2 neurodegenerative findings. We identified which neuropathologic entities correlate most frequently with one another and demonstrated that the total number of pathologies per individual was directly correlated with cognitive performance as assessed by Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR®) and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). We show that ADNC, LBD, LATE-NC, CVD, hippocampal sclerosis, Pick disease, and FTLD-TDP significantly impact overall cognition as independent variables. More specifically, ADNC significantly affected all assessed cognitive domains, LBD affected attention, processing speed, and language, LATE-NC primarily affected tests related to logical memory and language, while CVD and other less common pathologies (including Pick disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration) had more variable neurocognitive effects. Additionally, ADNC, LBD, and higher numbers of comorbid neuropathologies were associated with the presence of at least one APOE ε4 allele, and ADNC and higher numbers of neuropathologies were inversely correlated with APOE ε2 alleles. Understanding the mechanisms by which individual and concomitant neuropathologies affect cognition and the degree to which each contributes is an imperative step in the development of biomarkers and disease-modifying therapeutics, particularly as these medical interventions become more targeted and personalized.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58
JournalActa Neuropathologica
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 2024


  • Age-related tauopathy
  • Alzheimer disease neuropathologic change
  • CDR
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Corticobasal degeneration
  • Frontotemporal lobar dementia
  • Lewy body dementia
  • Limbic-predominant age-related TDP-43 encephalopathy
  • MMSE
  • Pick disease
  • Progressive supranuclear palsy


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